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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • CFPB blog post tackles mortgage closing costs, seeks consumer feedback

    Federal Issues

    On March 8, the CFPB published a blog post seeking consumer input on experiences with the closing process of consumer mortgages, and in particular, closing costs. The blog post posited that closing costs significantly impact a borrower’s financial commitment and, potentially, monthly payments and identified a “noticeable increase” in closing costs, with median total loan expenses on home purchase loans increasing by 21.8 percent between 2021 and 2022. In particular, the Bureau singled out title insurance fees and credit reporting fees. It labeled title insurance as a fee that borrowers are charged and for which they have no control over the cost, alleging that “the amount that borrowers pay for lender’s title insurance is often much greater than the risk.” With respect to credit reports, the Bureau remarked that the highly concentrated industry dictates the price of credit reports, citing anecdotal evidence of cost increases of 25 to 400 percent.

    The blog post also indicated that borrowers with smaller mortgages, including those with lower incomes, first-time homebuyers, and individuals residing in Black and Hispanic communities, are often disproportionately affected by closing costs, because they are typically fixed costs and do not change based on the size of the loan. The Bureau requested that consumers provide input on their experience with mortgage or closing costs, signaling that it will continue to analyze and if necessary “issue rules and guidance to improve competition, choice, and affordability.”

    Federal Issues CFPB Junk Fees Mortgages Mortgage Origination Title Insurance Discount Points Fees Credit Report Competition Consumer Finance

  • SBA unveils enhanced Lender Match tool to connect small businesses with lenders

    Federal Issues

    On March 4, the SBA announced the launch of an online tool for small businesses to connect to capital through the SBA’s network of nearly 1,000 approved banks and private lenders. This Lender Match tool was designed to provide users with a more effective and user-friendly interface, including a mobile-friendly interface that allows small business entrepreneurs and enterprises seeking to grow businesses to more easily identify and compare potential lenders. The tool also included fraud-screening measures to ensure a smoother process for both parties. Small businesses that are unable to find a match through the tool will be directed to the SBA’s local advisors for additional support in becoming “capital-ready.” The SBA hopes to facilitate more connections for entrepreneurs looking for various financing options through the enhanced Lender Match platform including microloans and growth capital with competitive terms.

    Federal Issues SBA Consumer Finance Small Business

  • FHFA announces updates for implementation of GSE credit score requirements

    Federal Issues

    On February 29, FHFA announced updates related to the implementation of new credit score requirements for single-family loans acquired by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (GSEs). As previously covered by InfoBytes, FHFA released a two-phase plan for soliciting stakeholder input on the agency’s proposed process for updating credit score requirements. The new process, called the FICO 10T model, will, among other things, require two credit reports (a “bi-merge” credit report) from the national consumer reporting agencies, rather than the traditional three (covered by InfoBytes here). After considering stakeholder input, FHFA expects to transition from the Classic FICO credit score model to the bi-merge credit reporting requirement in Q1 2025. The GSEs will also move up the publication of VantageScore 4.0 historical data to Q3 2024 “to better support market participants” and provide pertinent historical data before the transition. FHFA will provide more details on the timing for FICO 10T implementation once this initial process is complete.

    Federal Issues Freddie Mac Fannie Mae GSEs Credit Scores Consumer Finance Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • Minnesota Attorney General settles with tribal company over high interest rates

    State Issues

    On February 21, the Minnesota Attorney General announced a settlement with a tribal economic development entity to resolve a 2023 federal lawsuit that alleged the entity’s lending subsidiaries were engaged in predatory lending and illegal interest rates, in violation of Minnesota and federal consumer lending laws. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the complaint claimed that the entity’s lending subsidiaries charged interest rates of up to 800 percent in violation of state statutory caps of eight percent, and led state residents to believe that the entity was exempt from state laws that protect against predatory lending.

    Under the terms of the settlement, the entity and its subsidiaries can no longer lend to Minnesota residents nor advertise or market those loans. The settlement also required any loan issued to consumers in Minnesota before the settlement is canceled, except to recover the original principal balance with all past payments to be attributed towards paying down the principal balance.

    State Issues Courts Minnesota Interest Rate Consumer Finance State Attorney General Settlement Enforcement Consumer Protection

  • New York Fed Bank analyzes BNPL usage

    On February 14, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (NY Fed) published a blog post evaluating different households’ use of buy now pay later (BNPL) products, which it generally described as “loans that are payable in four or fewer installments and carry no finance charges.” To understand BNPL usage and its relationship with consumers’ financial situations, the NY Fed conducted a study which revealed distinct usage patterns between the financially fragile and the financially stable.

    The study revealed that financially fragile individuals, or individuals who have a credit score below 620, who have been declined for a credit application in the past year, or who have fallen 30 or more days delinquent on a loan in the past year, typically use BNPL to make frequent small purchases when compared to financial stable individuals. The study also found that using BNPL often leads to repeat transactions, indicating a potential trend towards repeat use of the product, particularly among those facing credit challenges.

    The study also found that consumers’ motivations for using BNPL differ. Financially stable individuals often cite zero interest as a key advantage, while the financially fragile prioritize ease of access and convenience. The NY Fed summarized that BNPL usage among financially fragile individuals resembles using a credit card for medium-size, out-of-budget purchases, while financially stable users tend to make fewer purchases with a focus of avoiding interest on high-priced items. The NY Fed noted, however, that there is evidence of misunderstanding among users, such as the belief that BNPL helps build credit, concluding that “those with this view may be better off using a credit card.” 


    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Buy Now Pay Later Federal Reserve New York Consumer Finance

  • FFIEC releases statement on examination principles related to discrimination and bias in residential lending

    Federal Issues

    On February 12, the Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council (FFIEC) released a statement on “Examination Principles Related to Valuation Discrimination and Bias in Residential Lending.” The statement outlined principles that examiners should use to evaluate an institution’s residential property appraisal and valuation practices to mitigate risks that stem from (i) discrimination “based on protected characteristics in the residential property valuation process, and (ii) bias, defined as “a preference or inclination that precludes an appraiser or other preparer of the valuation from reporting with impartiality, independence, or objectivity” as required by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. Failure to have these internal controls to identify and address discrimination or bias can result in poor credit decisions, consumer harm, increased safety and soundness risk. The principles outlined by the statement are categorized into consumer compliance examination principles and safety and soundness principles. For consumer compliance, examiners should consider an institution’s (i) board and senior management oversight to determine if it is commensurate with the institution’s risk profile; and (ii) consumer compliance policies and procedures to identify and resolve potential discrimination. The principles during a safety and soundness examination should include reviewing the consumer protection issues, governance, collateral valuation program, third-party risk management, valuation review, credit risk review, and training programs. 

    Federal Issues FFIEC CFPB Consumer Finance Mortgages Discrimination

  • District Court dismisses FDCPA class action lawsuit for lack of standing on alleged concrete injuries suffered


    On January 31, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed an FDCPA class action lawsuit for lack of standing. According to the order, plaintiff alleged numerous violations of the FDCPA related to two debt collection letters sent to the plaintiff and his girlfriend. In September 2023, a debt collector (defendant) reportedly sent two letters to the plaintiff which allegedly did not contain the requisite information mandated by the FDCPA for communication with consumers, including validation and itemization details. One of the letters purportedly demanded payment by September 29, falling within the 30-day validation period. Additionally, plaintiff asserted that one of the letters was addressed to his girlfriend who bore no responsibility for the debt. Plaintiff claimed two concrete injuries: (i) the letters allegedly strained his relationship with his girlfriend, causing emotional distress; and (ii) due to the omission of critical information in the letters, plaintiff felt confused and uncertain about how to effectively respond.  

    In considering the plaintiff’s claims, the court discussed the elements required to state a claim for publicity given to private life and examines a specific case where such a claim was rejected by the court. It highlights that for such a claim to succeed, the matter publicized must be highly offensive to a reasonable person and not of legitimate public concern. Additionally, mere communication of private information to a single person typically does not constitute publicity, unless it has the potential to become public knowledge. Although Congress explicitly prohibits debt collectors from sharing consumer financial information with third parties, the court noted that it “does not automatically transform every arguable invasion of privacy into an actionable, concrete injury.” Therefore, the plaintiff's injury, as pleaded, was deemed insufficiently concrete for standing purposes. Regarding the second alleged injury, the court argued that confusion alone does not suffice as a concrete injury for standing purposes, and courts have determined that mere confusion or frustration does not qualify as an injury. Additionally, the court compared the case to other cases where plaintiffs had alleged confusion yet had also demonstrated further injuries.

    Courts FDCPA Class Action Consumer Finance Litigation Standing Debt Collection

  • Colorado Attorney General fines debt collector $500,000 for collecting on illegal loans

    State Issues

    On January 16, the Colorado State Attorney General (AG) reached a settlement agreement with a third-party debt collection company that is ordered to pay $500,000 to the State. The company previously contracted to collect debt from consumers on behalf of unlicensed lending entities associated with Native American tribes, or Tribal Lending Entities (TLEs). According to the settlement agreement, none of the TLEs were licensed Colorado lenders and all of their loan agreements with consumers contained finance charge terms that exceeded the Uniform Consumer Credit Code’s 12 percent finance charge cap on unlicensed lenders—with most having interest rates that exceeded 500 percent APR and some up to 900 percent APR. The AG alleged that, between 2017 and 2022, the company violated the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by using “unfair or unconscionable means” to collect on defaulted TLE-issued loans by representing to consumers that the entire loan balance was owed to the TLEs, that the company was legally authorized to collect the payments, and that consumers were legally obligated to pay the full amount. The company denies that its conduct violated any state law and otherwise denies all allegations of wrongdoing. Along with the penalty, the company will be barred from collecting on any debt where the loan’s APR exceeded the 12 percent cap and will provide the State with a list of affected consumers within 30 days. 

    State Issues Colorado State Attorney General Enforcement Consumer Finance

  • Illinois proposes rule to evaluate mortgage community reinvestment

    State Issues

    Recently, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued a proposed rule pursuant to the Illinois Community Reinvestment Act (ILCRA). The ILCRA is modeled off the Community Reinvestment Act but expands its scope of covered financial institutions to include credit unions and licensed entities. The proposed rule will help the Department administer and enforce the ILCRA in an equitable manner. The rule establishes a framework and criteria by which the Department will evaluate a covered mortgage licensee’s record of helping to meet the mortgage credit needs of Illinois, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and individuals, through different tests and performance standards depending on the number of loans made by a covered mortgage licensee. Tests and considerations for evaluating licensees’ record include a lending test, service test, performance record, data collection and reporting, and content and recordkeeping of information received from the public.

    To mitigate the impact on small businesses, a licensee that has made less than 200 home mortgage loans in Illinois in the last calendar year will not be subject to the service test. Furthermore, licensees that made less than 100 home mortgage loans in Illinois in the previous calendar year will have less frequent examinations than those with more than 100. Based on the licensee’s performance under the lending and service tests, the proposed rule specifies that a licensee’s rating of “outstanding”; “satisfactory”; “needs to improve”; or “substantial noncompliance” will affect how frequent they are evaluated. Compliance with the proposed rule is required six months from its effective date, and comments are due by February 26. 

    State Issues Illinois Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Mortgage Origination CRA Consumer Finance

  • District Court denies stay of CFPB case against lender


    On January 12, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida denied a defendant-mortgage lender’s motion to stay a case filed by the CFPB. The defendant argued that judicial economy—the preservation of the court’s time and resources—favored the stay because the defendant’s pending motion to dismiss is premised on the same constitutional issue addressing the CFPB’s funding structure now before the Supreme Court (see continuing InfoBytes coverage here and here). In opposition, the CFPB argued that the Supreme Court may take months to issue a ruling, the public interest in enforcement of consumer protection laws, and the failure to show how an adverse ruling in the Supreme Court case would definitively result in dismissal of this case.

    The District Court sided with the CFPB, stating that as of now, the CFPB “is a valid agency that is entitled to enforce the consumer financial laws.”  With the stay denied, the court will now consider the defendant’s motion to dismiss.    

    Courts CFPB Mortgage Origination Mortgages Consumer Finance Consumer Protection Constitution


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